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Lizzy Or Emma A Critique Of Jane Austen's Heroines

2294 words - 9 pages

Living for only 42 years Jane Austen’s (1775- 1817) view of the world was genial and kindly. She had a clear sighted vision of the world where she amused herself with other’s foibles and self - deception, gave love to those who deserve to be loved and most certainly gave a light hearted satirical view of the society.

Marilyn Butler in her book "Jane Austen" writes that, “Jane had the happiness of temper that never required to be commanded. Cassandra, who knew her best, received letters in which Jane sounded dissatisfied with her lot, impatient, angry or unhappy”. In a letter Jane Austen comments, “I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them”.... in her Letters to Cassandra Austen on 24 December, 1798. Austen was certainly true to these words in the letter. She decided to live her life on her own terms by disregarding the suppressive, normative society and made a name for herself that is remembered even ages later. She became a woman of her own mind. She wrote for pleasure, not for fame or money, read out her stories to young nieces, published her novels anonymously, and never married a man without persuasive suppliance of reason which she never got. Then whatever Jane Austen was devoid of she supplied it to her characters. Her novels uphold her as a woman who was a staunch supporter of marriage, not of courtship. But in life Jane Austen never married, she remained unmarried till death. She rejected proposals- first from the man she had a brief relationship with (Tom Lefroy) who had no money and later the proposal from a man who had money (Harris Bigg – Wither) but could not win Jane’s love.

Though it has been very recent that Jane Austen’s works have become mainstream, for some she has been an all time favourite. It is because of those simple romantic intrigues, a novelty in language and a sense of freshness that keeps fragrancing through the pages and keeps the readers hooked till the end for the final unravelling of the dramatic plot, making Austen’s novels a must read. She has always been a favourite of not just women readers, men have admired Austen too. In this list of admirers Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Macaulay, C. S. Lewis and the most famous Jane Austenite E. M. Forster figure praising Austen for her sheer intellectual and a humoristic take on society’s follies.

Ronald Blythe in his preface to Emma (ed. 1966, Penguin Classics) writes that “Jane Austen can get more drama out of morality than most writers can get from shipwrecks, battle, murder or mayhem - there is balance, there is a serenity which leaves contentment at the core of the heart similar to that perfect rightness”. He aptly describes that Jane Austen was simply a woman of intrigues. When G.H. Lewes fondly called Jane Austen as a “prose Shakespeare” in his review Recent Novels: French and English (1847) less did he realise that this reference would become a well known praise of Austen’s artistry.

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